In the first two games of the 2019 Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) Preseason, the Thang Long Warriors defeated the Danang Dragons 75-72, while the Saigon Heat soundly handled their inner-city foes, the Ho Chi Minh City Wings, 68-47.
2019’s opening preseason game saw the Danang Dragons travel north to take on the Thang Long Warriors in a game that came down to the wire. In the matchup, the home team had to claw its way back into the game after trailing by as many as 17 points coming out of the half. Fighting both the visitors and the offseason rust, the Warriors were able to cut their deficit to eight points heading into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, the Dragons made attempts to pull away from their host, however, Thang Long continued to narrow its gap as it came to within four points in the final few minutes before ultimately overtaking the lead and holding onto it for good.
Warriors world import mainstay Jaywuan Hill led the charge as he finished with 19 points and 16 boards, while sharpshooter Nguyen Thanh Dat capped off his game with 12 points and two rebounds. Hoang The Hien also came up big with 14 points and eight boards.
The Dragons were led by an amazing performance from their own world import Anthony January Jr., who had game-highs of 25 points and 19 rebounds. Heritage import Austin Ly had an impressive VBA debut, finishing with 18 points and four rebounds.
In the second preseason game, the Saigon Heat took charge against the Ho Chi Minh City Wings in what turned out to be a low-scoring affair. Both teams appeared to be evenly matched in the first quarter as they battled back-and-forth with neither team being able to make a run to extend a comfortable lead. It wasn’t until the following period that the home squad was able to establish itself by building up a 12-point advantage at 45-33.
The scoring slowed down in the second half on both sides, but the Heat was still able to outpace its opponent to extend its lead en-route to a 68-47 victory.
In his first game back coming off his first ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) season, Tran Dang Khoa looked to be in good form as he led the Heat with 15 points in just 16 minutes. Additionally, Saigon’s newest heritage import Richard Nguyen displayed promise in his league debut with 10 points, six rebounds, and four steals.
On the visiting side, world import Wayne Martin finished with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. In an anticipated debut, Michael Soy, the first overall pick in the 2019 VBA Draft, completed his first game with 12 points and five boards.
The second week of preseason games will see the Danang Dragons play hosts to last season’s runner-ups, the Hanoi Buffaloes, May 21, while the defending champion Can Tho Catfish are set to face off against the Saigon Heat on the 23rd in Can Tho. An inner-city rivalry matchup between the Hanoi Buffaloes and Thang Long Warriors May 25 and a visit by the Catfish to Ho Chi Minh City to battle the City Wings May 26 round out Week 2.